Research paper writing: A 15-point academic writing checklist

by Elizabeth Oommen George
Research paper writing: A 15-point academic writing checklist

Research paper writing can be a challenging task for PhD students, early career researchers, and even some more experienced academics. When writing a research paper, authors need to be able to present their work in a compelling, easy to understand way, and in doing so demonstrate a deep understanding of their subject. This requires a structured process, a proper approach, careful attention to detail, meticulous planning, excellent writing skills and a significant amount of effort. In this article, we will outline the key elements of a good research paper and provide researchers with a 15-point research paper writing checklist to streamline the process.

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Key elements of research paper writing

The research paper writing process requires you to include some essential elements to deliver a well-written, complete manuscript.

  • An engaging title: Ensuring that the title of your research paper is concise, impactful, and engaging is important as it is the first thing that readers will see. It should be able to convey the subject of your research paper clearly and simply.
  • Well-articulated research questions: Research paper writing is incomplete without a well-defined thesis statement or research question that clearly conveys the purpose and scope of the research.
  • Thorough literature reviews: This key element in research paper writing covers a comprehensive overview of existing research in the field, which helps researchers identify and address potential gaps in knowledge.
  • Structured methodology: A good research paper must present a detailed description of the methodology used to collect and analyze data as part of their study. This allows readers to assess the validity and reliability of the research.
  • Accurate results: Communicating the results accurately and logically is an important element of research paper writing. Use graphs, tables and other visual aids as needed to organize and present your findings in an easy-to-understand way.
  • Analysis and discussion: In research paper writing, this isthe section that helps readers evaluate, discuss, and understand the relevance, significance, and implications of the research being done.
  • Strong conclusion: A well-rounded conclusion summarizes the key research findings and provides a clear, concise answer to the research question or thesis statement.
  • Citations and references: A good research paper writing practice is to ensure you have got the citations and references right; this establishes your expertise and adds credibility to your work.

THE academic writing checklist for researchers

Now that you know the key elements to include in your research paper writing process, it’s time to get started. If it seems like a lot, don’t worry. Follow this 15-point academic writing checklist to ensure that all the key research paper writing elements have been included and carefully checked before you submit.

  1. Assess the research paper title to see if it clearly conveys the focus of the research paper, has relevant keywords, and is engaging enough to attract reader attention.
  2. Read the abstract to make sure that it contains the aims and objectives of the study, the research design and methodology, the main findings, and final conclusions.
  3. Ensure the introduction is well structured and addresses key issues like the aim, research questions, and arguments made in the research paper.
  4. Present a clear statement of the rationale for the study in the introduction and ensure that relevant literature is cited as it relates to the study.
  5. Ensure that the research paper is well structured and organized with sub-sections and paragraphs and presented in a logical flow; this will aid reader comprehension.
  6. Craft short, engaging paragraphs that communicate often complex ideas clearly; use appropriate transitional phrases or words to connect paragraphs and sub-sections smoothly.
  7. Provide relevant headings for sub-sections to improve overall readability and convey important points quickly.
  8. Ensure that the conclusion summarizes and clearly communicates the findings and analysis of the research problem. Remember not to introduce any new ideas or findings that are nor reflected in the main body of the text.
  9. Avoid repetition – differentiate the results from the discussion section; the former should present the findings, while the latter evaluates how the study adds to existing knowledge, practice and/or policy formulation.
  10. Check the citations follows the target journal’s style guidelines. Make sure that in-text citations match the references and bibliography.
  11. Check that the guidelines for formatting provided by the target journal have been strictly followed. Page numbers must be provided in the proper format, line spacing must be even, and tables and figures should be given titles and numbers that match with the references.
  12. Proofread several times to ensure that your final manuscript duly addresses and resolves all the feedback comments and recommendations shared by the supervisor/reviewer/editor.
  13. Check for possible plagiarism by checking and properly citing all the sources used for research paper writing; use the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, etc.) preferred by your journal.
  14. Make sure that the research paper adheres to the recommended word count and length specified by the journal. Check abbreviations have been provided in full at least once and a glossary has been provided, where necessary. Any non-English language should be accurately translated.
  15. Include an acknowledgement section mentioning and thanking individuals or teams who have helped and supported you with the research study.

The research paper writing process requires careful attention to detail and adherence to academic standards. By following this comprehensive 15-point academic writing checklist, PhD students and researchers can optimize their research paper writing and ensure they consistently deliver coherent, well-structured manuscripts that meet the high standards expected by journal editors.

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